US open: Volatility revival amid Far East worries
(ShareCast News) - Simmering tensions around the Korean peninsula saw a revival in equity market volatility as traders on Wall Street steered a wide berth around stocks amid the still unsettled geopolitical waters.
Hence, gold was in demand, but far more so downside protection in the form of 'puts' on the S&P 500 which saw the popular VIX, often described as the Street's 'fear' gauge, shoot higher.
As of 1529 BST, the Dow Jones Industrials was down by 0.55% or 124.40 points at 21,924.13, alongside a 0.74% or 18.31 point fall on the S&P 500 to 2,455.10 while the Nasdaq Composite was off by 1.09% or 68.97 points to 6,283.94.
In parallel, the Chicago Board of Options Exchange's options volatility index, or VIX, was up by 32.04%, and trading near a session-high of 14.67.
From a sector standpoint, the worst performing areas of the market were: Travel & Tourism (-4.91%), Heavy construction (-2.35%), Electronic office equipment (-2.14%), Medical supplies (-2.07%) and Durable household products (-1.47%).
Commodity investors on the other hand were looking at a positive start to the day, with both gold and crude oil futures wanted.
Setting the mood music for markets on Thursday and in a barb aimed at the US president, overnight the head of North Korea's Strategic Forces, General Kim Rak Gyom reportedly said: "Sound dialogue is not possible with such a guy bereft of reason and only absolute force can work on him."
Meanwhile, front month West Texas Intermediate was higher by 1.20% to $50.17 a barrel on the ICE after the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries nudged its forecasts for global crude demand this year higher.
The world's thirst for black oil would reach 1.37m barrels a day in 2017, OPEC said in its Oil Market Report for August.
That was 100,000 b/d more than it had forecast in July.
In economic news, the latest readings on the US jobs market and factory gate prices came in more-or-less as expected.
The US jobs markets continued to tick along at a solid pace last week with just a very slight increase in the pace of layoffs, according to the Department of Labor.
Initial unemployment claims edged higher by 3,000 to reach 244,000 over the week ending on 5 August, the DoL said. Economists had penciled in an unchanged reading of 240,000.
A separate report showed US factory gate prices dipped by 0.1% month-on-month in July (consensus: 0.1%), alongside a flat reading at the 'core' level (consensus: 0.2%).
On the corporate front, shares of department store operator Macy's took a hit after the firm reaffirmed its guidance for a drop of between 2.2% and 3.3% in its full-year like-for-like sales on an owned basis, sending the shares duly lower.